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Just Go Grind

Apr 26, 2021

Sandro Roco is the Founder and CEO of Sanzo, an Asian-inspired sparkling water company on a mission to bridge cultures by connecting people to authentic flavors. Sanzo uses real fruit, not "natural flavors," and has no added sugar. Sandro, a Queens-born Filipino American, was walking through a popular Asian supermarket in Manhattan’s Koreatown when he noticed a huge gap between the modern, clean labels of the new-age “American” beverage brands and the preservative- and sugar-laden labels of the legacy Asian brands. His goal was simple: celebrate high quality Asian flavors that for decades have been masked by added sugars, artificial flavors and preservatives.

Sandro started out as an engineer at a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, worked for two years on a trading floor for J.P. Morgan, and then became head of growth and later chief-of-staff for an online personal styling service. This unconventional career path equipped Sandro with a unique skillset that ultimately led to the founding of Sanzo.

Some of the Topics Covered by Sandro Roco in this Episode

  • What makes Sanzo sparkling water different and how Sandro came up with the idea
  • Getting Sanzo started and moonlighting for a year
  • Why Sandro is a solo founder
  • How Sandro was scrappy while approaching manufacturing for his CPG
  • Getting a "scheduled process," or food scientists' approval
  • The importance of developing relationships with distributors and retailers and being prepared before starting those relationships
  • How Sandro made the decision to leave his day job and go full time with Sanzo
  • How Sandro got his first sales
  • Deciding which retailers and distribution partners to work with
  • How distribution has shifted as Sanzo has grown
  • The impact being a child of immigrants had on how Sandro chose to finance his company
  • How he raised 1.3M (from a $600,000 goal)
  • The feedback Sandro was getting from early high profile investors
  • How Sandro has approached building community and how this was reinforced during the pandemic
  • Sandro's eye test rules for packaging design
  • How their packaging design shifted over time
  • Launching D2C during the pandemic
  • How Sandro has gone about product development regarding flavors
  • Sandro's hiring methodology and how the focus has shifted from pain to opportunity
  • What has helped Sandro as a founder and how he steps away from work
  • Why Sandro is passionate about what he does and what's next for Sanzo

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